"Guys really did not want to lose in his first game back and heading into the playoffs," Luck said. "To get a win I think means the world to him."
Pagano certainly wasn't downplaying the emotions of the moment.
"There was a lot of high-fiving, a lot of dancing, a lot of hugging going on and a lot of celebrating," the coach said after emerging from the locker room. "There's a lot to celebrate right now."
Not for everyone, that's for sure. According to multiple reports, Philadelphia fired Andy Reid on Sunday night, cutting ties with the league's longest-tenured coach after 14 seasons. The clock probably has struck midnight for Norv Turner in San Diego, Pat Shurmur in Cleveland, Romeo Crennel in Kansas City and Chan Gailey in Buffalo.
Shurmur, after a 24-10 loss to Pittsburgh, stuck to bottom-line coach-speak when asked about his future: "We really did not win enough games and we're not competing next week. I was never really worried about [next season] and I have no regrets."
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers called it "tough" to contemplate Turner's not being the team's coach.
"You've played quarterback for a guy for 102 games," Rivers said. "That's a lot of time spent. A lot of fun, a lot of hard work, plenty of disagreements and aggravations. It's hard. Other than my dad, I don't know that there has been a coach that you've had so much respect for and trust for. Six years is a long time."
The Eagles suffered a 42-7 humiliation at the hands of the New York Giants, whose too-little-too-late effort failed to earn them a trip back to the playoffs. That marks the seventh consecutive year the defending Super Bowl champion will not win a first-round playoff game the following season.
"It happens that way," said Giants defensive lineman Justin Tuck, whose team finished 9-7. "I've been 10-6 and not made the playoffs. You've got to win the ones you're supposed to. That's why the division games mean so much. If we'd won the division games, we'd still be in the driver's seat."
Heading into Week 17, all of the AFC playoff participants had been decided. Those finales were all about seeding.
But the NFC picture had yet to come into full focus. So before Dallas and Washington squared off Sunday night for the NFC East crown, the NFC West had to be determined.
San Francisco claimed that division title with a 27-13 win over Arizona. Seattle won at home too, picking up a 20-13 victory over St. Louis.
"It was a lot harder this time around to get it," 49ers safety Donte Whitner said of securing the week off. "We were the target this year and got everybody's best shot. To come out and still win our division and have the opportunity to get a first-round bye is tremendous."
We're No. 1
Kansas City lost Sunday but also won. Sort of.
The Chiefs finished 2-14, assuring themselves of the top pick in April's draft. Unlike last year, when Luck and Robert Griffin III were selected first and second, there isn't a quarterback worthy of the top pick.
The early indications are that teams drafting in the top five will be looking to bail out of those spots to get better value slightly later in the draft.
Jacksonville also finished 2-14 but was edged by Kansas City based on the strength-of-schedule tiebreaker.
Mile High expectations
In another season, Peterson would be a shoo-in to be named the league's most valuable player and comeback player of the year.